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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 01:03 GMT
Turk police tried for Kurd deaths
By Jonny Dymond
BBC News, Istanbul

Posters of Ahmet and Ugur Kaymaz at a demonstration in Ankara
Kurds have called for the killers of the two to be punished
The trial has started in Turkey of four policemen accused of the unlawful killing of a man and his child in the south-eastern province of Mardin.

Ahmet and Ugur Kaymaz were shot and killed in what security forces said was an anti-terrorism operation.

Ugur Kaymaz was 11-years-old when he was killed.

That the trial is happening - and that it is attracting attention inside the country - testifies to the changes Turkey has seen over recent years.

'Excessive force'

The killing of Ahmet and Ugur Kaymaz in late November last year aroused little attention for a few days.

But gradually the Turkish media, non-governmental organisations and members of the Turkish parliament became more and more involved.

The security forces, which for years have been accused of torture and extra-judicial killings in Turkey's troubled Kurdish south-east, were thrown onto the defensive.

The shooting in the back of a child who was reportedly dressed in his slippers at the time did not seem to many like an attempt to halt a terrorist operation.

Instead the police have been accused of using excessive force.

Those involved were, for a time, suspended from duty. They have since been re-instated and re-assigned.

Quick action

Speaking to the BBC, the president of the Kurdish political party, Dehap, acknowledged that things had changed in Turkey.

He said that the growth in the strength of civil society had led to that change in atmosphere.

There is still a fair amount of paramilitary activity in the south-east and human rights groups maintain that the authorities are still heavy-handed in their response.

The difference between now and a few years ago is that, in some cases at least, such responses no longer go unnoticed in the rest of Turkey.

In this case, moreover, the authorities have been quick to act against those who appear to have overstepped the mark.

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